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Free Pick Breakdown, Odds & Prediction: Celtics vs. Hawks (11/16/2022)

By Ryan Potts
November 16, 2022
Photo by: Bob DeChiara - USA Today Sports

Boston Celtics vs. Atlanta Hawks (11/16 @ 7:30 p.m. EST.)

Line: Celtics -2
Total: 232.5

Boston Celtics vs Atlanta Hawks Breakdown and Betting Odds

The red-hot Boston Celtics (11-3) are heading to Georgia to face the Atlanta Hawks (9-5) on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. ET. The Celtics are 2-point favorites. The over/under is set at 232.5.

After losing all seven matchups in the 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 seasons, the Hawks have won four of the last seven matchups, splitting with the Celtics in 2021-2022. The Celtics have not won in Atlanta since February of 2020, losing a matchup in 2020-2021 and two matchups in 2021-2022. Last season, no matchup featured more than 209 points. In both Hawks’ wins last season, they won by double-digits. The Celtics won their matchups by 9 points and 10 points.

Boston Celtics Overview

After a relatively cold stretch around Halloween, the Celtics have been historically great. They have won seven games in a row, scoring at least 117 points in six of seven games. They have three wins by at least 15 points in their streak, and they have scored 130 points twice. They have risen from 4-3 to 11-3 as they head to Atlanta, New Orleans, and Chicago for their next three games.

The Celtics are averaging 120.0 points per game, and they have a 119.5 offensive rating. While  they are only 14  games into the season, 120.0 points per game would be among the best seasons ever. Since 1985, it would rank second to the 2020-2021 Milwaukee Bucks. However, the total  points per game hides the relatively sluggish pace the Celtics  have had so far. They rank 20th in the NBA in pace, making their absurd  point tally that much more impressive. Their 119.5 offensive rating is more than a full point higher than any other team in NBA history. Per 100 possessions, they are outscoring the aforementioned Bucks by 2.3 points.

The Celtics have ridden a barrage of high-efficiency three-point shots. They are second in the league in attempts, connecting at a 38.2% clip, good for fourth in the NBA. No team can match Boston’s 15.6 threes per game. Seven different Celtics have already hit 20 threes with Jayson Tatum’s 49 leading the way. The Celtics have four different players taking 3.5 or more threes  per game and hitting on 40%. This is led by Grant Williams who has hit 48.8% of his triples. Al Horford (45.1%) and Sam Hauser (45.2%) have also been red-hot. Tatum is pouring in 31.9 points per game, and Jaylen Brown is adding 25.4 points per game.

Last season, the Celtics had one of the best defenses in the NBA. This season, they have been average to below average for the most part. They rank 19th in points allowed per game and 22nd in defensive rating. To Boston’s credit, they have not had any outright terrible defenders playing meaningful minutes, but everyone who has played 10 minutes per game has a defensive rating between 112 and 116, so everyone is to blame. From a counting perspective, reigning Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart leads the team with 16 steals. Tatum leads the team with 20 blocks.

In their last five games, Boston is 3-2 ATS. They failed to cover in Memphis (by 0.5 points) and against the Oklahoma City Thunder (by 8 points). However, the number is small enough that there is a strong chance a Celtics win would come with a cover. The over has hit in three of Boston’s last five games. In one of the games that it did not, the total went under by 0.5 points.

Atlanta Hawks Overview

Like the Celtics, the Hawks began 4-3 before going on a winning streak. They won three games in a row, but they have split their last four to land at 9-5. The Hawks reside in third in the Eastern Conference, but they already have a pair of wins over the second-ranked Bucks. The Hawks have had a much more balanced approach than Boston, ranking in the top 16 in points per game, points allowed per game, offensive rating, and defensive rating.

Atlanta’s 10th-ranked offense is  led by the two-headed monster of Trae Young and Dejounte Murray. On a per-game basis, Young averages 26.9 points and 9.3 assists. Murray is averaging 21.5 points and 7.8 assists. With the help of the dynamic backcourt, three other Hawks are averaging at least 11.4 points per game. Rather than relying on the three-point shot, the Hawks are averaging the most two-point shots in the NBA, shooting 66.4 per game.

The Hawks might not have personnel that bodes well for good defense – namely Young – but the likes of Clint Capela and Onyeka Okongwu have been comparatively strong defensive pieces. The Hawks’  have the sixth-ranked defensive rating, allowing 110.4 points per 100 possessions. Capela is the team’s top defender, posting a defensive rating of 106. Murray has 29 steals while Capela has 21 blocks. John Collins has 28 combined steals and blocks.

The Hawks are 3-2 ATS in their last five games with the straight-up record matching their ATS record. They are 2-1 as underdogs, winning both matchups with the Bucks. The over is 3-2 in the last five games, narrowly hitting in Atlanta’s most recent game.

Free Pick: Celtics -2

The Celtics have had their issues  defensively,  but they have been a historically efficient offense to  counteract their defensive regression. While the Hawks have been much better defensively than they had been in previous seasons, the Celtics should still be able to exploit mismatches against Young. With two elite scoring wings, the Celtics should give the Hawks all they can handle and cover Celtics -2.

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